Poll: Majority would blame both sides equally if talks fail

A new poll finds that a majority of voters would blame both President Obama and congressional Republicans equally if efforts to find a deficit deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” fail.


Fifty-six percent surveyed in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll say both sides would be responsible if a compromise is not reached. Nineteen percent would blame Obama and Democrats only, with 24 percent saying the GOP would be at fault.

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Those numbers could suggest a shift in public opinion as both parties work to find a way to prevent tax rate hikes and automatic spending cuts from taking effect in January.

Prior surveys have shown voters more likely to blame congressional Republicans if talks fail.

A Washington Post/Pew Research survey released last week found 53 percent would blame Republicans, with 27 faulting the president. Twelve percent in that poll said blame should be equally apportioned. And a CNN/ORC poll last month found 45 percent saying Republicans would be responsible if there was no accord, with 34 tabbing Obama.

But voters in the new WSJ/NBC poll also give the president a strong review in talks, with Obama holding a 53 percent approval rating. Forty-three percent disapprove of the president’s overall job performance.

On the issue of taxes, 59 percent say Obama received a mandate in the election to eliminate Bush-era tax rates for those making over $250,000 a year, with 36 percent saying he didn’t receive such a mandate.

Republicans want to extend the expiring tax rates across the board, but Obama has said he will reject any deal that does not raise rates on the top 2 percent of income earners.

Voters are also split on the likelihood that a deal will be reached, with 48 percent pessimistic about the outlook and 48 percent optimistic.

The poll’s findings come as both sides remain deadlocked in talks. 

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Obama earlier this week exchanged a new round of offers, and staff for both sides are continuing to meet to hammer out an agreement. But publicly, leaders are suggesting that there is a long road to finding a deal.

On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) warned lawmakers that they should be prepared to continue working after Christmas.

Both sides have sought to rally public support for their position in talks, with Obama hitting the road, visiting autoworkers in Detroit earlier this week. 

The poll was conducted from Dec. 6 to 9 and has a 3-point margin of error.